Swindon Council has revealed that it needs to cut the library budget in the borough by £1.5million over the next four years – a reduction of 58%.
Swindon’s cabinet will be meeting on Wednesday February 10 to discuss launching a six month consultation on how the cuts will be made – with ideas ranging from closures to libraries being staffed entirely by volunteers.
A cut of £300,000 has been allocated for 2016/17 from the libraries budget. It has not been decided at this stage where those savings will be made.
Councillor Garry Perkins, the cabinet member for libraries, said: “This is only the start of the conversation and no decisions have been made. We want to look at all the different ways that libraries can be used to become sustainable for the future. This could come in the form of building sharing, volunteer groups or even working out how to make them commercial assets by bringing in new income streams.
“We all use libraries in different ways now and although the traditional use has been in decline, more and more people are using them for the IT facilities.
“Each area has different needs and we will be looking at the libraries on a case by case basis. There will inevitably be job losses though.”
Over the past few months a needs assessment has been carried out by the council looking into how each library is run. They now want community groups and volunteers to come forward so they can work out how each library will work in the future.
Library provision is one of the services which local authorities have to provide as part of their statutory obligations. The vast majority of residents, 94%, live within four miles of the central Library with the rest living within nine miles.
The current budget is £2.6 million but by 2020, £1.5 million needs to be shaved from the library budget with £300,000 over the next 12 months.
Library Services currently employs 70 people and there will be job losses over the next few years.